Most home businesses only care about the step-by-step tactics and how-to guides.
Not to say that those aren’t important, but if you only understand the tactics without understanding the principles, you’re most likely not going to use it successfully.
Tactics without principles are just fluff, and it’s why 99% of home businesses struggle.
They do social media and postcards just because everyone else is doing it.
They post on Instagram with hashtags because they feel like they should.
However, once you understand what these tactics are based on, you’ll be able to apply it to every marketing decision you make for your practice.
There are timeless principles based on human psychology.
Technology and trends may come and go but knowing principles will help you navigate and take advantage of new opportunities or avoid them.
If you understand the timeless principles that stood the test of time, you and your practice will be able to:
- weather any economic downturn.
- dominate your local area. (It won’t even be close.)
- create ravings fans and a community who will love to give you more business.
Regardless of the technology, environment, or your competitors…
You’ll not only be able to survive but thrive with this newfound skill set.
Below are some of the basics: Marketing 101.
Here are some underrated principles that most internet marketing gurus gloss over.
This first one is highly underutilized and you can get started right away.
Start with Your Immediate Network
A business is offering products and services to other people. The only way you'll be able to grow your business is by building your relationships, one person at a time.
If you've been in the trenches and trying to build relationships with cold email, forums, or online facebook groups, you may have been neglecting one of the most powerful tools at your disposal: your current network.
Think of your family, your friends, your old classmates, your colleagues. Take them out for coffee to catch up.
Chances are they might know a friend of a friend who would be interested in your services.
Focus on having a certain number of conversations with someone new or old every single week.
A bonus is that it will also keep you from going insane if you're working from home 24/7.
Understanding Your Numbers
Most business owners don’t understand their numbers. Most don’t have a way to track how much money comes from new/repeat business.
To see marketing as an investment, you’ll have to shift your mindset on how you should look at each potential client that walks through the door.
The questions you want to ask yourself are:
- What is my most profitable type of customer?
- How often do they purchase your services over a period of a year?
- How much does it cost to get one customer through the door?
You have to know how much you get from potential customers over a lifetime of the relationship, not just from the first transaction.
This is called Customer Lifetime Value, and it’s important that you find out your number from your business because this will be the basis of all of your marketing decisions. Here’s an excellent infographic to get you started.
You can get started tracking deals in excel, but if you have a substantial amount of customers, it would be better to get dedicated software to track deal amounts.
Build Your Email List
You want to stay in the front of their minds through both broadcast and individual outreach.
This is where email marketing comes in. Send a monthly newsletter to all of your customers with tips and advice related to your expertise.
Anything that can contribute to their health and happiness is perfect for a newsletter.
For individual outreach, this will take a bit more work. You’ll want to keep tabs on your customers and tailor each email to appeal to their social status.
This might sound a bit “ulterior”, but you ultimately want to help people, right? This is just how human psychology and sociology work. Read more about this phenomenon here.
The nuances of email marketing are beyond the scope of this article, but here are some best practices to get you started.
- People like you and your business for you, so don’t be afraid to let some of your personality show in your writing.
- Remember that you want to write the email as if you were writing to that one person(both in your newsletter and, obviously, in your individual outreach emails).
- Keep things casual and use simple language. Too many people try to be verbose and technical in their writing. Don’t overthink it.
- Offer something valuable like a coupon or discount to your customers who give you referrals. Offer it through a reward program or a contest/random lottery.
You’ll most likely need an e-mail marketing software so you don’t need to send each email manually yourself, but that’s for another lesson.
Ask for Referrals
For some reason, there seems to be a stigma related to asking customers for referrals. People seem to think that it’s pushy or you’re asking people for a favor. This is a stigma that needs to be reversed.
To understand why we need to shift our thinking and look at why referrals are made.
It has to do with social status.
According to marketer Dean Jackson, there are three things that are needed for a referral to take place.
- A conversation related to your business
- You being in your existing customer’s mind
- Your existing customer taking action and telling their friend
For example, I tell you about a book to you that you’ve never read before. I tell you it’s amazing. Let’s say you read it and find it amazing.
That makes me feel good because I was the one who referred it to you.
That’s the feeling I subconsciously wanted in the first place. Sure I wanted it to benefit you, but the first reason is that it boosts my ego.
You enjoying the book confirms that I have good recommendations, making it more likely that you’ll listen to any recommendations I have for you in the future.
That puts me in an authority role, similar to celebrities who recommend products(albeit on a much smaller level).
It’s all subconscious, but that motivation is inherent.
The bottom line is, referrals are made to satisfy self-interest(boosting social status). Once you understand that, it’s now a matter of how you come up in conversation.
What are some conversations you imagine your business coming up in?
Narrow Your Client Base and Tailor Your Messaging
As you continue to build a customer base and keep in touch with them, you'll want to start narrowing down who you serve. Providing services for everybody, while great for cash flow and short term gains, is not the best strategy long term.
You'll continuously be in the feast or famine cycle common to many home businesses.
When marketing your services, it’s important that you write your copy or your elevator pitch as if you’re speaking to one person.
This is called your Ideal Target Profile.
Look at a few of these questions and answer them for your specific target market(s).
- What's their demographic and psychographic information?
- What professional or industry associations are they a part of?
- What do they read? (websites, blogs, magazines)
- What are their life goals/biggest aspiration?
- What are their fears?
- What are their fears related to your business?
- Who are the other players that influence their decisions?
Messaging is absolutely crucial here. You can have more than one target persona, but all of your marketing material needs to be separate from each persona.
You wouldn’t speak the same way to professional athletes as you would to senior citizens, would you?
Pick a target market, make tailored messaging, present it to them, and optimize. Rinse and repeat.
Here it is step by step:
- You want to get your prospects attention. This is done through the copy(specifically the headline) on your ads, e-mails, direct mail package. If it’s compelling enough, they’ll click your ad or read your letter/postcard to find out more information.
- Keep them interested. You want to take them on a journey and tell them a story. A good formula to follow is this:
- Present the problem
- Agitate the problem
- Give them the solution
- They’ll then want to evaluate and think about it..but as a marketer, you must understand that millions of dollars are lost every year to the “I’ll think about it” crowd, so you want them to act NOW. Here are some tactics to use:
- Limited Time Offer – Give them a hard deadline. “This offer only lasts for 2 weeks so make sure to contact us as soon as possible.”
- Application Only – Make it exclusive. “We’re only accepting 10 people during this pilot program so contact us now.”
- You want to make this as easy as possible. Prepaid reply envelopes that they can just drop in the mailbox, a phone number to leave a voicemail or to text. Anything that makes it easier for them.
Many business owners don’t understand this simple process, but with these tips, you can start a simple test campaign with your existing customers.
Marketing 101 Will Serve You Well
Hopefully, this gave you an excellent Marketing 101 overview to help grow your home business.
If you practice these tried and true principles, you'll be able to grow your business and thrive.